I heard terrible things about the animated Ultimate Spider-Man series before, but I couldn’t have conceived of how bad it really was. Apart from the obvious (subpar animation, lack of unique or at least competent looking art direction, everyone on the show is a prankster), the biggest problem lies in the characterization of Spider-Man himself. I liked him as a teenager (who doesn’t like melodramatic characters who think they carry the problems of the world on their shoulders), but as I grew older the whole melodrama aspect of his characters grated on me.
I never would have guessed that there was something worse. As a character Spider-Man is someone who was forced to grow up far too soon (something the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series by Bendis captured perfectly), who had to deal with the grown-up world while still far too young to actually do it. The whole joking stick was one way of Parker to deal with that, the other was the whining and why-me attitude. That he managed to act mature far beyond his age group, that he managed to deal with things he shouldn’t have and survived all of that, survived and grew, is one of the reasons people love him so much.
Ultimate Spider-Man on the other hand is a complete prankster who mostly gives lip-service to the whole responsibility thing, doesn’t show any maturity (only the jokes cranked up to eleven), doesn’t even show the will to better himself. Quite frankly, Ultimate Spider-Man is a self-absorbed asshole and everything that Spider-Man in all his media incarnations was not.
This cartoon is shit. Avoid at all cost.